Pfizer has become the second COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in South Korea, after the one developed by AstraZeneca.
The Food and Drug Safety Ministry gave the green light on Friday after three rounds of consultative meetings with outside advisory panels.
They reviewed clinical data, which showed an efficacy of 95 percent and a permissible level of safety, and approved the vaccine for anyone aged 16 and older.
"Taking into consideration the previous two rounds of advisory panels, the final review committee has decided that Pfizer's vaccine can be used on those aged 16 years and over, given that the safety and efficacy proven in clinical trials which were designed to include that age group."
However, because people younger than 18 are not currently included in the vaccine campaign, its use on that age group would require further permission from the KDCA.
Pfizer's approval is significant, given it is the first ever given to an mRNA vaccine.
Traditional vaccines work by injecting a viral protein,which is key to producing immunity.
But mRNA vaccines like Pfizer's, are designed to help the body, create that viral protein by itself.
For that, it uses fragments of the virus' genetic material called RNA.
When that goes into body, the muscle cells translate that genetic code,.. .and start making the spike protein of the coronavirus.
The body thinks it's infected, and starts creating antibodies and T cells to fight off the virus.
So when the body encounters the virus for REAL, it's already got the immune system to protect itself.
"It is faster to make mRNA vaccines because it only requires making RNA fragments, rather than full protein spikes.
It also means mRNA vaccines can be easily adapted to new variants because all you need to do is change the specific fragment of genetic code that has mutated."
South Korea is already using Pfizer vaccines from the COVAX facility, which had emergency import approval.
And now full approval has been given, it will receive its first batch directly from Pfizer in late March.
Lee Kyung-eun, Arirang News.